Starring: Nagarjuna, Prakash Raj, Brahmanandam, Harshavardhan, Poonam Kaur and others.
Director: Radha Mohan.
Producer: Dil Raju
Cinematography: K V Guhan
Tollywoodstuff Rating: 3/5
What’s the story? A Chennai-New Delhi flight is hijacked by five terrorists and they demand it to be diverted to Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Due to a technical snag, it finally lands in Tirupati where they make contact with the Airport authorities. National Security Advisor’s team and National Security Guards (NSG) team takes control of the situation to broker a peace deal with the terrorists for the safety of passengers. The terrorists demand the release of Yusuf Khan, an international terrorist who’s in a high security prison in Kashmir. And they give the Indian government less than 48 hours to accept their demands or face severe consequences. Will the Indian government accept the demands? What happens to the civilians inside the flight? Will the NSG do something to save the passengers? This forms the rest of the story of this intriguing drama.
What is Good: Gaganam derives its strength from human desire to be righteous and do or say what’s right. It’s about ordinary people from different walks of life who are pushed into an extraordinary situation of turmoil and utter chaos. Be it an action hero who chickens out in real life or a kid who questions the terrorists’ intentions to hurt innocent people, they all strike a chord immensely. Nagarjuna is terrific as the NSG commando. He’s in complete control of the situation despite the indecisiveness of his bosses. At times, the situation spirals out of control, but Nagarjuna as Major Raveendra keeps his composure and chalks an elaborate rescue mission. On the other hand, Prakash Raj dazzles in his role. He’s the personification of a helpless civil servant who cannot stand the fact that they are running out of time. Both Nagarjuna and Prakash Raj are on the same side of the fence who are determined to make sure that the rescue mission is a success. Poonam Kaur, Harshavardhan and all the actors who act as the terrorists do a commendable job.
Over 90% of the film is shot in the hijacked plane and the commando base in the airport terminal. Despite the sense of claustrophobia, the film touches upon several themes like why the government delays taking important decisions, how the media sensationalizes issues and most importantly how complete strangers come together irrespective of their cultural backgrounds during such incidents. It’s here that the film transcends from just being a well written film to an engrossing drama which brings back memory of infamous incidents of the 1999 Kandahar hijack and perhaps even the 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai which continue to haunt us.
Another important aspect to observe is how cleverly Radha Mohan manages to add humour in such an intense drama. The scenes featuring Prithvi & his fan onboard the plane and Brahmanandam & the guy named Ranganth (in the film) are hilarious to say the least.
Technical Departments : Cinematography by K V Guhan is another reason why this film is an edge of the seat thriller. There’s a sense of urgency in most of the scenes and the hand-held camera movements add more drama. The film has been shot on a Red camera which explains the lighting patterns seen in the film – there’s hardly any sunlight since most of the film is shot indoors. Background score is very good and dialogues by Anuradha go well with the mood of the characters. Editing by Marthand K Venkatesh is crisp making the film a gripping watch. Radha Mohan sticks to the seriousness of the theme for the entire length of the film and there’s hardly a dull moment in the film. A top notch cast and crew who has put in their best of efforts also helps Radha Mohan’s endeavour to make a taut thriller. Kudos to him for such a superb effort.
Bottom-Line: At a running time of 1 hour 58 minutes without any songs, romance and the usual fare of masala quotient, Gaganam is quite an achievement, especially in terms of writing and screenplay. Such films are rare and perhaps the onus is upon us to encourage and applaud people who do the so called ‘different’ films. Quite frankly, every now and then, a film like Gaganam is necessary to make us realize that cinema isn’t always about escapism or a dream factory churning out candyfloss films. Two big thumbs up for the film…go watch it. Even if you are an ardent follower of commercial cinema, you never know when you might become a convert and embrace newer genres. And Gaganam is you best bet this month!